NASA has calculated 83 percent of the sun will be obscured by the moon over Panama City, so the eclipse will be noticeable, even without being in "the path of totality."
PANAMA CITY — The Aug. 21 solar eclipse will be the first visible from the Panhandle since 1979, and there won't be another one until 2045. Florida isn't in the eclipse's direct path but will still see a partial blockage of the sun.
To make the most of the experience locally, here's what you need to know.
1. What are we going to see in Bay County?
We aren’t in what’s called “the path of totality,” so we aren’t going to experience that complete darkness often associated with an eclipse. That being said, NASA has calculated 83 percent of the sun will be obscured by the moon over Panama City, so it will be noticeable.
The eclipse will start at 12:07 p.m. and end at 3:05 p.m. But the peak time — in other words the moment you don’t want to miss — is 1:39 p.m.
Fun fact, though: During the Aug. 12, 2045, eclipse, the Panhandle will be in the path of totality.
2. What events are happening?
Because school is in session and Monday is a typical work day, there aren’t many local events planned.
However, No Name Lounge is having an eclipse viewing party on its deck with free viewing glasses and drink specials.
3. So, what are the schools doing?
General safety information will go home with the students next week as school starts, but there’s been no final decision yet as to changes in the school day.
Several teachers have, however, already procured viewing glasses for their students, with plans to catch at least a portion of the phenomenon — safely.
4. What will the public safety response look like?
Everything will proceed as normal, and there won’t be a reverse 911 call or extra police for the occasion, according to officials.
“We don’t anticipate any issues from the eclipse,” said Sheriff Tommy Ford, adding he expects it will be a bigger concern for areas in the path of totality, where total darkness will temporarily disrupt the day.
5. Where can I get those eclipse sunglasses?
Even during an eclipse, the normal rule of “don’t look directly at the sun” applies, but the good news is inexpensive (or even free) eclipse glasses are widely available for occasion. The Lynn Haven Public Library has been passing them out for free, but is down to its last few.
The shades also can also be bought online or at some area hardware stores.
Where you get yours, your viewing glasses should bear a stamp of approval from the International Organization for Standardization and a label indicating the product meets the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard. Imitation products might seem legitimate but if not ISO-approved can lead to retinal damage.
Another option is to make a simple pinhole projector at home with nothing more than a box and some tape. For instructions, check out The News Herald's video tutorial at newsherald.com.